Be Your Own Hero

A few weeks ago, I had a job interview and one of the interview questions posed to me was “Who is your Hero?” What a great question, and one not often asked in the context of an interview.

My answer was and has always been my Dad.  However, what was different this time, was that it was the first time I had been asked or answered the question since my Dad died.  My eyes welled up in tears as I answered the question.

Those who know me, or who knew my Dad, know the profound impact he had on my life, and that his death has had on me over the past year.  I came across this communication that I sent to a friend on the day we buried my Dad:

How do I say goodbye to the most important man in my life?
I knew this day would come…I just didn’t think it would come so soon.
I’ve been able to fly as high as I have because I always knew my Dad would be there to catch me if I fell….and over the last few years I’ve done a lot of falling.  And in those moments when I didn’t think I could get back up again, it was my Dad who would remind me of my strength and called my forth so I could pick myself back up again.
Right now, life seems to have no meaning or purpose

As I read what I wrote, over a year and a half ago, I am present to how I felt when I wrote it. Lost. Hopeless. Uncertain. Afraid.  Deeply sorrowful.

In my second interview with the same company, the interviewer asked a question something along the lines of, “What have you learned about yourself?”

My answer was, “That I am resilient.” What I’ve learned over the last year and a half is to be my own hero.  Grief and loss can be incredible teachers if we let them.  Without having my Dad to call or talk to or rely upon, I’ve needed to call upon and rely on myself in new ways.  I’ve had to learn to catch myself, to build myself up, to see myself in the ways that my Dad has always seen me.

On November 9, I woke up,  like many other Americans feeling as though the world had changed, and like many, feeling it was not for the better.  After weeks of experiencing many of the same symptoms of grief, depression and anger that I felt in the months after my Dad’s death, I began to inquire into the “reason” for this and the opportunity.

The other night, I saw Hamilton.  Yes, it lives up to the hype.  It’s so much more than a hip-hop musical, or a way to get old white people to appreciate that style of music.  It is an evocative piece of art that is timeless and now, very timely. As I took in the show, and allowed the music and the message to wash over me, I couldn’t help but wonder what I might have felt, had the election outcome been different.

Hamilton evoked many emotions  inside me. The first was sadness.  As I watched the story of our forefathers and how they created our nation, what they stood for, and how our country began (by breaking away from a patriarchical ruler and fighting for freedom); I felt sad about how divided our nation seems now and the extremes of our differences.  I also felt sad that we now have a president-elect that I can not get behind, because I can not normalize something that simply isn’t “normal” and who certainly does not, in my opinion, represent the values and ideology that our country was founded upon.

After experiencing my sadness, what I saw next was the opportunity that this might present.  Just as our forefathers ushered in a new nation from a revolution…the people of our county perhaps might rise up and do the same.

We the American people can no longer rely on politicians, elected officials or even our President to look out for us or to be our heroes.  Just as I have needed to learn this lesson after losing my Dad, we the people, need to step up and be our own heroes now. We as a nation are resilient and it’s time to see ourselves in new ways and rise together.

Times of uncertainty and unrest can call forth creativity, innovation and pave the way for  new leadership, ideas, solutions.  Now is not the time for complacency or resignation. Perhaps it is time for another revolution.  But not a revolution of hatred, war, killing or bloodshed. A revolution of ideas, thinking and being that contribute to new solutions in business, in the economy, the environment, education, healthcare, in our communities, etc.

When you fight against the current narrative you give it power. We have never been here before, so  we need a new approach, which includes listening to understand.  And also thinking and feeling before speaking, which would lend itself to tapping more into our hearts and not so much from our minds, or what we already “know.”  From there, new ideas and solutions can arise and one can take action from this new place.

As the Schuyler sisters say in Hamilton,Look  around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now.”  We are in a position to create a new narrative. It’s the story that we all tell next that will create the future.

So what story are you going to tell?

 

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Finding Light in the Darkness

I had a meeting this morning over on the River North and decided to walk home and enjoy the beautiful crisp Fall day and the fact it is still warm enough to walk home.

On my walk, I passed Holy Name Cathedral and decided to stop in the church, sit quietly with my thoughts and pray. I’m still processing and trying to understand what happened with our election, what this means for our country now and what I might do to help create change and be a part of a solution as we move forward.

There were a few other people in the church as well, perhaps all there for the same reason that I was.

As I sat quietly, inviting God into the space, All of my grief and sadness came to the surface and I started crying. Many thoughts raced through my mind as I sat with my sadness. I felt sad that our country is so divided right now. I felt sad that this man was elected president in spite of being the man he has shown us he is. I felt ashamed to be white, knowing that the majority of votes, unkindness, hate speech and actions are coming from men and women who share my skin color but not my values. I felt frustrated for not having a solution to this problem and not quite knowing what I can do.

There was a black woman in the pew across from me. She saw me crying and got up from her pew and walked towards me, asking if she could hug me. I said yes and I started sobbing as she held me, telling me it would all be OK. She told me that I reminded her of her mom who passed away in 2014 and showed me her picture. And she said with my red hair I reminded her of a fairy, like Tinkerbell.

I thanked her for her kindness and her comfort in my state of broken heartedness and she made her way out of the church. That woman was my Angel today and she may never know the impact she had on me. I may never see her again, but I will never forget that simple act of human kindness.

That simple act, restored my faith in humanity and restored my hope that in this madness, positive change will come.

Now more than ever we need to stop looking to someone to save us or for someone else to blame and take responsibility. It is our collective consciousness that got us here. And if we are willing to see that, then we are not powerless, we are powerful and capable of change.

There is no them…that’s an illusion that keeps us in fear. And when we act from fear we do stupid things. There is no black, white, hispanic, gay, straight, muslim, christian, jew, man, woman. In our highest self, we are a soul having a human experience in the body we chose to walk this earth in. Those ways that we identify ourselves also keep us separate. Issues that impact those specific segments of our population, impact all of us.

Now more than ever we need to come together in dialogue to listen, to understand and know that is our diversity and different perspectives that makes us stronger. We need to take care of each other and our planet.

We are the greatest nation in the world, many look to us for leadership and as an example. We need to break down walls not build them. We need to disrupt our old thinking and outdated beliefs and create new solutions that serve our current demographic.

We are the ones we have been waiting for. Let’s start by making America kind again.

#lovetrumpshate #love #kindness #riseup